In the summer of 1914, A.Y. Jackson was far from home, high among the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. He was there to paint. This was back in the earliest days of the Group of Seven, years before they used that nickname. Jackson was still new to the group; the others had only recently convinced him to join their efforts to change the Canadian art world forever — and with it, the way Canadians saw their own country.
|Thomson at Grip Ltd. (via)|
It "ended any doubts I had about enlisting," he said. A few months later, he was on his way to the front lines.
|Troops near Ypres, WWI (via)|
|Canadians at Passchendaele, 1917|
Canada had a new sense of itself in the wake of the First World War, and for the first time since Confederation, people seemed ready to support artists who wanted to capture the unique spirit of their own country. Jackson and the others had attracted the attention of younger artists. They were selling their work to the National Gallery. Their war paintings had won glowing reviews from the British press. Soon, they would have their first group show together at the AGO. The year after they returned from the war, they decided to publicly declare themselves as a new movement with a new name. They were called the Group of Seven. And they were going to do exactly what they promised to do: change Canadian art forever.
A version of this story will appear in
The Toronto Book of the Dead
Coming September 2017 from Dundurn Press
Available for pre-order now
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A.Y. Jackson, 1914